Mathematics Education (not recruiting for 2013/14)
Full time Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
Part time Master in Education (MEd)
The Mathematics Education route is for anyone with a research or professional interest in mathematics education at any level of education (primary, secondary, or tertiary), wanting to undertake advanced study in a world-class setting. The route is taught by an expert team within mathematics education.
The route aims to develop students’ understanding of a number of substantial and important themes and issues by exploiting international mathematics education research, to enable them not only to interpret mathematics education research but also undertake an appropriate project within their own national or professional contexts. Each session will examine international research pertaining to a particular mathematics education issue.
Each year this route examines several of the issues below:
- Problem solving - the place of innovative and non-routine thinking in the mathematics curriculum;
- Comparative mathematics education - comparing and contrasting curricula, pedagogical practices, assumptions, priorities and educational outcomes in different countries and cultures;
- Teacher knowledge - conceptualisations of the knowledge base that underpins teaching, and how this is evidenced in the classroom;
- Affect and mathematics - the role of beliefs, values, attitudes and emotions in mathematics education;
- Proof in mathematics – what is a proof, who determines its quality and acceptability? What value is placed on proof in school mathematics and does this vary from one country to another?
- The role of ICTs in the teaching and learning of mathematics;
- Language in mathematics education - spoken and written forms of the mathematics register, and how these facilitate and inhibit learning;
- The aims and purposes of mathematics teaching - the tensions between different justifications for the place of mathematics in the primary and secondary school curriculum;
- Learning theories in mathematics education - psychological perspectives from behaviourism, constructivism, socio-cultural theory and situated cognition;
- Assessment in mathematics education - examined at the three levels of studying, teaching and schooling.
In addition, the course addresses theory and practice in connection with several mainstream curriculum topics. These include elementary arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, and number theory.
"I have developed my understanding of mathematics education research during the year. I have learned to think more critically, rigorously and paying attention in details during the research process. Also, the writing of the essays and the thesis gave me the autonomy to engage further with topics of my interest, having at the same time guidance and support from the supervisors."
Eleni Demosthenous - Mphil student 07/08
The student cohort is drawn from around the world, including the UK, and represents a variety of mathematics education traditions and perspectives. This is a particular strength of the route and something from which all participants benefit. Upon completion of the route, students follow different career paths: some pursue doctoral studies in mathematics education preparing themselves for a research or academic career, others (continue to) teach mathematics in schools having developed a (more) research-informed practice, others assume mathematics education leadership positions at the local or national levels, etc. You can visit research student profiles and their testimonials about the course.
Conducting your research project
Many overseas students return to their country of origin to carry out their research project, while home-based students typically conduct their research project in their local setting (e.g., the school where they teach). Normally data collection will take place during April and May (though part-time students are advised to collect their data in the Spring term) after the end of the taught elements, but leaving sufficient time for you to analyse your data and prepare your thesis. If this is likely to be true for you, then it would be helpful to you to make any initial contacts with teachers or administrators before you start the route.
You should also bear in mind that the Faculty does not have the funds to support travel and other expenses of your work, although a small amount to cover some fieldwork expenses may be available. You may also be able to apply to your college for some support.
Research Methods Strand
All Masters students on this route are required to attend a generic research methods strand, taught across thematic routes. Methods sessions are essential for a research-based Masters degree and constitute about one-third of the whole programme. Through this strand students will develop their understanding of different research strategies, foster skills in appraising and synthesising published research studies and acquire the understanding and skills necessary for designing, conducting, analysing, interpreting and reporting a small-scale research study for thesis presentation.
The research strand covers a broad range of social science research methods and is essential for Masters level understanding and critical engagement with the research literature in many specialist areas and in education more generally. It offers opportunities and encouragement to apply the knowledge gained to your thematic area, and vice versa. Details of the MPhil and MEd Research Methods courses are provided in separate handbooks.
Preparing for the course
In order to prepare for the course we ask you to reflect on the mathematics education issues listed above and how they affect, or are addressed in, mathematics classrooms in your country. In this respect, the following readings, which are not compulsory, should help you prepare for the course.
Kaiser, G., Luna, E., & Huntley, I. (Eds.) (1999). International comparisons in mathematics education. London: Falmer Press.
Haggarty, L. (2002). Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Schools: A Reader. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics: Teachers' understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
We would also advise you to read a book on how to conduct literature reviews, in preparation for your written assignments on the course. A possible book on this topic is:
Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. Sage.